Attracting, sustaining and developing middle leaders in English Further Education

Monday 7 March 2022

Middle leaders in FE: Attract. Sustain. Develop.

We are delighted to have partnered with the Association of Colleges (AoC) and The University of Nottingham to bring you this report, which reveals the essential role that middle leaders play in having a positive impact within the college community. 

This report seeks to identify the current levels of support, development and investment into middle management in the Further Education (FE) sector and the effectiveness of the initiatives already in place, to ensure individuals have the skills they need to manage teams effectively and have access to opportunities for progression.

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Why does developing and investing in college middle leaders matter?

Leaders and managers in the FE sector have had to deal with some of the biggest challenges in recent history. During the pandemic, colleges needed to react quickly, which has led to a wider systemic change in how colleges develop and implement strategy.

According to David Phillips, Managing Director of City & Guilds and ILM, “middle leaders are working on the ‘front line’ and are closer to the challenges and pressures of the college, than their senior counterparts. They are likely to be balancing people leadership and resource management.”

In this research, we wanted to understand how senior and middle leaders work together to turn strategic thinking into action.

While senior leaders are navigating the pace of change and are experiencing and addressing wider pressures, the middle tier role becomes reactive and predominantly operational. The research highlights the need for clearer appreciation from senior managers of the pressures they are facing and their longer-term professional development needs.

The purpose of the research was to develop a clear insight into the following themes:

  • The attraction and ambitions of middle leadership
  • The sustaining of interest and commitment to the middle manager role and to the employer
  • Professional development and the middle leader 
  • An appreciation of role expectations: people, resource management and development.

Download the report

Thanks to the Association of Colleges (AoC) and The University of Nottingham, for their input in this report.

Attracting, sustaining and developing middle leaders in English FE

middle managers report cover

Download the report